Social Media Safety Teams Alert Local Police - KULR-8 Television, Billings, MT

Social Media Safety Teams Alert Local Police

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Facebook, Twitter and many other social media sites continue to grow every day. By signing up, everything from your private messages to your pictures, become property of that social media website. And all social media sites have their own safety teams that'll flag illegal activity.

"When you sign their user agreements and everything, you are agreeing to let them have your information. So, as soon as you post it, then they have access to it," says Earl Campbell, Billings Police Officer and on the Montana Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.

If you do anything illegal online, social media like Facebook and Twitter have safety teams, so you can bet they'll alert the local police department, such as with the case of Daniel Birns from Yellowstone County.

"The cyber tips are able to give us information as far as where these people are at in their activities which makes it a lot easier for us to find them and track them," says Campbell.

According to court documents, Facebook's safety team found private messages indicating Birns allegedly engaged in illicit sexual activity with a minor. Birns faces two counts of sexual intercourse without consent.

Campbell says, "it's physically impossible for us to maintain a presence everywhere, so that actually helps us kind of have more of a presence by their ability to send us information in specific areas or people to look at."

While some may think it's an invasion of privacy, it's leading to more arrests, which put parents minds at ease.

"I think Facebook honestly just opens the door for people to get at your kids. It's safe to an extent for us adults but when it comes to your children, I just don't feel like it's safe enough. And them having something like this to offer protection in case somebody is trying to target our children, I think it's a good idea," says James Payne, a father in Billings. "I really agree with Facebook doing something like that, because the safety of my child is everything to me."

"I think it's proactive. I think it's appropriate. I think it's necessary," says Mary Beth Petrisko, a mother in Billings. "I don't think children are able to protect themselves. I do think that we need the arm of law enforcement."

"When your kid is small, they don't have any privacy. You know, it's not until you're an adult are you able to say 'Hey, I need some privacy' and I think children should be monitored especially when they're online with all the just nasty things that are out there," says Tiffany Payne, a mother in Billings.

These types of tips all go to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that alert Law Enforcement. Campbell also says social media sites must by law report pictures they believe are illegal or involve child pornography.